Intimate Partner Violence in the Context of Depressive Symptoms, Insecure Romantic Attachment, and Relationship Dissatisfaction During the Transition to Parenthood




Gou, Lisa

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Physical and psychological intimate partner violence (IPV) are deleterious to the physical and mental health of romantic partners and their children, yet both forms of aggression continue to be prevalent even when couples become pregnant with their first child. This study aimed to investigate the factors contributing to IPV in couples experiencing the transition to parenthood. A community sample of 98 heterosexual couples undergoing the transition to parenthood was recruited from Victoria, BC. Couples self-reported levels of depressive symptomatology, attachment anxiety and avoidance, relationship satisfaction, and frequency of physical and psychological IPV perpetration and victimization. Men with greater attachment anxiety perpetrated both forms of IPV at a higher rate than men with lower levels of anxiety. Women with greater depressive symptoms were more psychologically aggressive towards their partners. Women who were more depressed, or more anxiously or avoidantly attached were less satisfied with their relationships, and decreased satisfaction was in turn related to greater perpetration of physical and psychological aggression. Women’s relationship satisfaction mediated the effects of their depressive symptoms and attachment anxiety and avoidance on their perpetration of psychological IPV, and the effects of their attachment insecurity on their perpetration of physical IPV. Relationship satisfaction did not mediate these associations for men. Men’s avoidance did not moderate the association between women’s anxiety and men’s and women’s IPV perpetration; a model with genders reversed testing the moderating effect of women’s avoidance on the association between men’s anxiety and men’s and women’s IPV perpetration was also not significant. Men’s anxiety also predicted women’s psychological IPV perpetration, controlling for their own anxiety and psychological victimization. The results illuminate the ways in which men and women may be affected differently by the factors contributing to risk for violence during the transition to parenthood. Implications for prenatal interventions targeting depression, attachment insecurity, and relationship satisfaction in order to reduce the risk of IPV are discussed.



Intimate partner violence, Attachment, Depression, Transition to parenthood